“Say the Word,” directed by Greg Nicotero and written by Angela Kang, provides a bit of a breather from the emotional wreckage that was last week’s ‘The Killer Within.’ This episode has some moments that should be emotionally heavy, but they don’t resonate like the fast paced trauma of last week. This is a good thing. Too much emotional horror and you’ll tap out your audience.
Woodbury is celebrating with a good old fashioned block party and Andrea is, as always, enamored. It does not occur to her that Woodbury is clearly the Stepford of the zombie apocalypse. Despite all of the clues she has been given up to this point and the many more she receives later in this episode, she refuses to believe that this oasis is just a mirage.
The scene shifts to the governor, who is brushing a zombie’s hair. It’s a moment that is almost amusing and definitely elicits a resounding ‘wtf?’ but then it all comes together and breaks your heart when you realize the zombie is/was a little girl. When zombie girl, whose name is Penny, attacks him, the Governor puts a bag over her head and cradles her in his arms saying “Daddy still loves you.” It is completely messed up and insane and one of the most tragic scenes I’ve ever seen. The Governor was just like everyone else. He had a family he loved and just like everyone else, he is holding onto that family at all costs. In truth, he is not much different from Hershel, who locked his loved ones in a barn hoping for an eventual cure.
Over at the prison, Rick, who has completely cracked, grabs an axe & runs off into the prison to kill all the things. In the meantime, the gang comes up with a plan to find the baby formula so she does not starve. Maggie & Daryl volunteer to gather the provisions and end up at an abandoned day care. There is a rather evocative scene with empty cribs and other baby paraphernalia. Babies should be a symbol of hope and but in this world, hope does not exist. The birth of a child is no longer met with joy, but rather fear for what may befall them in this horrible world.
Back at the Woodbury block party, the Governor reminisces about how far they have come in creating their little world. Michonne takes this opportunity to steal back her sword and sift through the Governor’s journals when she discovers the zombies the he is hiding.. Just in case her fighting skills are a tad rusty, she let’s the zombies out to make sure she’s still got it. She does.
Despite Andrea’s pleas and the Governor’s attempts at manipulation, Michonne leaves Woodbury. Andrea is left to discover the secrets of the community on her own. This doesn’t take long, because the citizens of Woodbury continue their celebration with a human vs. walker gladiator pit – and Merle is the star gladiator. Andrea is immediately disgusted but she’s also still desperate to cling to the hope she finds here. She is not an independent person and without Michonne, she will hold on to the life in Woodbury even harder.
Although this episode was a break from the high intensity of last week, a lot happens here and the story moves forward. It’s obvious that our group and most certainly Andrea, are in serious danger. Likewise, the gang at the prison faces internal danger from Rick’s continued insanity spiral, which is only going to get worse.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9/8c on AMC.